Sometimes in Zambia people make amazing things happen on very short notice.
When I left for my trip to Arizona at the end of March, my Community-Based Intervention Strategies class was continuing their work on four projects to improve the social life on campus. They had reinstituted movie/game nights every Saturday evening and were helping prepare refreshments each week. Sports practice and competitions were underway, including scheduled games with teams from nearby institutions. A debate was set to take place during my absence. The topic was whether traditional African gender roles were detrimental to women. (The side arguing for the proposition won.) The final project, a campus-wide talent show, was still under discussion, to take place in early May.
Upon my return, the talent show had been transformed into an Easter concert, and it would be happening the following Friday! The chaplain had organized a worship planning committee to guide his work. When they met the first of April, they decided that MEF should celebrate Easter in some way before the students returned home for the Easter week break April 16-25. Several students from my community class were on this committee. When an Easter concert was mentioned, they recognized that this could include song, dance, poetry, drama--everything intended for the talent show except the eating contest. The students knew that many singing groups were already practicing for Easter, including our own Echoes of Joy. They also knew that MEF could probably only provide financial support for one event of this kind during the semester. To avoid competition, they collaborated on the new idea.
The concert took place at Charles Fisher Hall and included choral offerings, a re-enactment of the Last Supper, interpretive dance and traditional dance, a poem, and even a clown-like character interpreting gospel music. The Director and several staff came as well as students and people from our sister institutions on campus (the YWCA, the Anglican seminary, Theological Education by Extension Zambia, and the theology college.) Some of the choirs were from these other institutions as well as neighboring schools. It went on from 5-9 pm, and everyone considered it a great success.
Easter is an important festival time here. Yesterday was Palm Sunday. There was a huge gathering in Kitwe of many of the area churches of all denominations for an early morning procession, everyone carrying palm branches and singing. Participants marched for awhile, then stopped for a message or an anthem by one of the choirs, then processed again. That took place from 7 am to 10 am. Then each congregation went to its own church to have a worship service, mostly lasting until noon or 1 pm. The rest of the week there will be daily services, becoming more somber as the week progresses through Good Friday, then joyful again on Easter Sunday. I have not encountered any of our traditions of the Easter bunny or colored eggs or baskets of candy, but most families will share a festive meal.
I wish all of you a blessed Easter, however you observe the holiday.